"The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" December 1987
By Barbara Robinson, Directed by Bill Davis
Rachel Whiting, David Quigg
From The Daily World, 1987
There's a special surprise awaiting Harborites this Christmas.
The Driftwood Players will perform "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" in spite of a Puget Sound-area moratorium on the play.
Owners of the rights felt it was receiving too much exposure in the Seattle area, but on Thursday agents relented in the case of the Driftwood Players.
"We're very pleased," said director Bill Davis. "What would Christmas be without a Christmas play?"
Davis has directed "Pageant" in its two previous performances here, in 1983 and 1985.
Tryouts will be 10 a.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at the Driftwood Playhouse in Aberdeen.
There are parts for more than a dozen children and several adults, said Davis, who stressed that those wishing to be involved in the play must be prepared for hard work, and that includes the parents of the children chosen for the play.
"We're at least a week behind," Davis said, "and those trying out need to be ready to follow a strenuous rehearsal schedule."
The play runs two weekends before Christmas with performances Dec. 11, 12, 13, 18, 19, and 20.
There will be two performances on the 20th. Besides a committed cast, Davis is also seeking technical assistance from production people -- those willing to operate lights, and sound equipment and help with costumes, "all those things that make a play come about."
Because it was believed the play would not be performed this year, "some who had planned to help out made other commitments," he said. "Now we really have to scramble.
The play was canceled, just a few days before scheduled try-outs after Davis learned of this year's moratorium.
"I wrote for permission and to ask for the playbooks. I thought it was a routine matter since we had performed the play twice before," said Davis. "Then I got a phone call saying we couldn't do it."
Arden Heide of Samuel French Inc. in Los Angeles had the distasteful duty of giving Davis the news. The company publishes "Pageant" and acts as an agent to license its performances. "I didn't like doing it," said the agent, "but I had no choice."
Heide said author Barbara Robinson and her agent had decided the play needed a year's rest.
The amateur groups performing the play were taking away from profits earned when it was performed by Seattle professionals, Heide said.
Davis had no choice but to cancel the show.
But after phone calls from an upset mother, Heide did more research. He learned that Aberdeen falls just outside the 100-mile limit where the play could not be performed.
He also felt that the Driftwood Players were not the intended target of the moratorium, since the group had received written permission to perform the play twice before.
Armed with this information, he attempted to contact the agent to seek the needed permission. Days passed and he could not find her. He wrote a letter, hoping that if she were out of town, she would have her mail forwarded. Early this week, he learned sha had died.
Finally, Heide tracked down an agent in the Samuel French office in New York who could give permission for the play to be performed, Thursday, permission was granted.
"We feel this can be a special Christmas gift to the community, but it's going to take a lot of work," Davis said.
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